The conditions for the opening day of the first separate Australian Laser Masters Championship in over 25 years couldn’t have been better. The idyllic bay of Port Stephens greeted the 180 boat fleet with clear blue skies and 15-18 knots. In previous years the Masters titles were combined with the Australian Open Laser Championship but numbers where getting too large, limiting venues and making race management challenging.
The Australian Laser Class President, Ken Hurling explained excitedly 'This is fantastic, we have representatives from every State and Territory here and even a few internationals although we I have to ask, where are the Kiwi’s?! I’m sure after they hear what a great success this is they will come next year. The Laser class is a booming success; we’ve had over 400 competitors competing at National titles in Australia this year'
There was a buzz of happy sailors sharing stories on the shore after racing, including former Master World Champion, Colin Dibb who just moved up to the Grand Master division and won both races. 'Great day, fantastic conditions, I’m very pleased as I have only recently returned to sailing after eight months out of action caused by having to have operations on both forearms to fix nerve damage. As a warning to other sailors, if you start to feel numbness in your fingers, get it checked right away to avoid surgery. I waited three years!'
NSW and ACT Laser Class President and ALCA Vice President, Colin Cain described the days sailing as, 'Sensational, could be better! Warm water, perfect breeze, good race management and the highlight was sailing alongside a pod of porpoises'
Local sailor and highly active member of the Laser Class, Michael Mills is both competing on the water and present with the PSA Support Van ready to assist any sailors with repairs. Whilst Michael is racing, other PSA and NB Laser staff are ready to help any sailors with breakages to get fixed and back on the water with Formula 1 pit stop speed.
Stefi Schurer (VIC) took up sailing three years ago when she moved to Australia from Germany. 'I love the sport but it was a very difficult day for me, this is my first event away from my club where I started racing a year ago.
Firstly I forgot to sign on then I couldn’t find the finish line and had to loop back! By the second race my glasses were fully fogged up and I saw the yellow flag on the committee boat but didn’t see the class flag and realised half way upwind that I had started with the Standard fleet!'
The current Apprentice Standard World Champion, Brett Beyer is the talk of the boat park, sailors referencing their performance upon how well they held him upwind or similar. Local sailor, John Cameron said, 'One of the magic moments from the day was watching Brett Bayer cross the fleet followed closely by a line of dolphins'.
This event attracted some good sponsorship with Neil Pryde sailing clothing and the Salamander Shores Hotel. A daily prize draw to win Neil Pryde clothing is being held at the Salamander Shores Hotel with free canapés bringing everyone together and making for a social event.